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Massage Today
June, 2006, Vol. 06, Issue 06

Stay in Touch With ... Aromatherapy: Scents of Place

By Kelli Lene, NCTMB

One of the most important investments you can make in your practice is developing your "sense of place." Sense of place goes beyond creating an atmosphere; it's established through client experiences and connection of feelings.

I can teach a class full of technicians the exact same spa protocols, with the exact same tool box of products, then come back in a year and each will have created completely different spa experiences for their clients. Well-planned combinations of protocols and products allow us to build the synergy of experience that defines our uniqueness as a spa provider and this valuable sense of place.

We are very aware of the five basic senses in the spa profession; a balanced spa protocol will engage all five.

Each of our product tools involves one or more of these basic senses. For example: we utilize exfoliates that are extremely tactile, stones that are visual, teas that are tasteful and specific music to immerse our client into a full sensory experience. However, the strongest impression we make will be by aromatherapy through the sense of smell. Essential oils are the paints of our spa tool box. Since essential oils have strong physiological, pharmacological and psychological components, they are a vital component in designing any spa experience.

The goal in my own practice is to make sure that from the moment a client walks into my treatment area and long after they leave, they are cocooned with a sense of well being. This defines my "sense of place." The following are some examples of typical smellscapes I design for my clients in the summer.

When the heat index goes up, my aromatherapy protocols naturally turn to treatments that will cool and revitalize drained clients. My first addition is to use an aromatic room mist to spray my table set-up right before I start a session. This not only sets the smellscape, but also forms a cooling sensation when the client lies down. I receive many complements when I utilize a spray of water and a pre-blended citrus synergy (e.g., orange, lemon, grapefruit, tangerine, lime). This choice delivers a clean and inviting smell that greets my clients and sets the tone of safe haven. These oils are uplifting, centering and pleasant air cleaners. Using the citruses as a room spray allows me to take full advantage of these properties without risking the photosensitivity which is sometimes a concern with using citruses full body. Finally, these oils are top notes so they will disperse quickly from a client's mind, to make way for the next smellscape.

One of my most popular services is custom blended oils for the client's massage experience. This involves a pleasurable consultation where the client helps me create their synergy based on what is going on in their life and their goals. I then blend two ounces of oil, using about one ounce in the massage and sending the rest home with the client. I tend to blend by trinities (three oils at a time) or use pre-blended synergies. I find this keeps the blending interesting for the client without overwhelming them. An example of a summer favorite is a relaxing blend of four drops each of geranium rose, lavender and roman chamomile into two ounces of a light massage medium. All three oils are middle notes (heart notes) and together will resonate like a calming hum throughout the massage. This blend is not only very soft and tranquil; it also helps pharmacologically with wind- and sun-tortured skin, which is so prevalent in the summer. If your client needs or desires a more substantial blend, you can replace the roman chamomile for two drops of Sandalwood which is a base note. This will add weight to the experience and enhance the meditative aspect of the massage.

I conclude all my sessions with a blessing of oils. In the warmer months, I like to deliver the finishing touch as a reviving and cooling sensation on the feet, neck and temples. My favorite aromatherapy treatment is to blend eight drops of orange and four drops of peppermint in one ounce of a fast-absorbing base and briskly rub it into the feet. Then, I promptly apply the mixture into their neck and temples, making sure to stay away from their eyes. I close with placing my hands in front of the client and instructing them to take several deep breaths. As a final touch, I serve water garnished with slices of orange and sprigs of mint. These particular aromas are chosen for their refreshing effects and I can't think of a better state in which to send my clients, and me for that matter, back into the challenging world that awaits.

A client probably won't remember what you said, they might not even remember what you did, but I promise they always will remember how they felt when they were with you. Aromatherapy is one of the easiest and most effective ways to establish a sense of place, by allowing us to create the strongest essence of place.


Kelli Lene attended the Austin School of Massage in El Paso, Texas, and the East Tennessee School of Cosmetology. She has extensive experience as a massage therapist and spa technician. She can be reached at "> .

 

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